About the Spanish language

Spanish is the most widely spoken of the Romance languages, both in terms of number of speakers and the number of countries in which it is the dominant language. It is the mother tongue of some 320 million people scattered throughout the world – in the Iberian Peninsula, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, in parts of Morocco and the west coast of Africa.

It is the official language of all the South American republics, with the exception of Brazil and Guyana. Naturally the Spanish spoken in all these places appears in many varieties. In fact the differences between Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish are equivalent to those between British English and American English.

The Spanish vocabulary is of Latin origin, though many of the words differ markedly from their counterparts in French and Italian. Prolonged contact with Germanic and later Arabic affected its evolution but did not risk the decrease in Romance speaking. Germanic and Arabic have left their mark on the Spanish language as words like 'guerra' – war and 'algebra' – maths can both be traced back to their respective Germanic and Arabic origins.